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Season 4 Review
Arrow may have started off in the shadow of The Dark Knight, but it soon established itself as DC's small-screen heavy-hitter.Arrow (with its fifth season now airing) entered its fourth year as an well-established, richly comic-entrenched superhero series, boasting two exceptional seasons - its debut run and its arguably superior sophomore series - and a middling third year which faltered slightly mostly in respect of the over-played relationship arc(s) involving its lead character. Whilst Season 3 had some good elements, and some nice establishing ideas (not least the ultimately wasted introduction of Batman arch-villain Ra's al Ghul), it was often regarded as having devolved into more of a teen soap-esque will-they-won't-they debacle as it focused all too keenly on whether or not the masked vigilante The Arrow / Oliver Queen would finally get the girl (his secret love having been identified at the end of Season 2). It was a hard task to rectify that situation, so in some respects Season 4 has had an uphill struggle, and not only with this particular angle.Over the course of the preceding three years the Star(ling) City vigilante team burgeoned significantly, with almost every recurring character on the show either getting killed, killed and resurrected, revealed to be a villain, or joining forces with Arrow as a superhero (then killed/resurrected). Amidst the casualties are almost everybody Oliver has ever known, with the latest additions including his kid sister, although the plight of her old flame's sister Sara (herself an ex of Oliver's) has its own twists and turns, as does his love life. Despite the slightly improbable pattern, Arrow still feels largely natural in its plot and character developments - at least on the face of it - with only the increasingly contrived flashbacks marring the course of its intricate 23-episode story arcs (highlights, as ever, being The Flash and Constantine crossovers) and with Season 4 turning around the show and at least heading it towards what will hopefully be a far more secure fifth season.
Picture QualityArrow's fourth season maintains the same very good - but not quite perfect - video presentation of its predecessors. The UK Blu-ray release of this latest season promotes the series with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation that maintains modestly impressive detail across the run of episodes, at least in the present, whilst the flashback sequences offer up a more stylised look with heavier grading. Skin details, facial textures, clothing weaves and background nuances are consistent for the most part, picking up on finer elements even in darker conditions.
Arrow's fourth season maintains the same very good - but not quite perfect - video presentation of its predecessors
Whilst not quite as dark and gloomy as the Gotham environment, Arrow runs a close second, and is understandably dominated by blacks, leaving shadow detail somewhat under scrutiny. Whilst far from demo, there are only a few instances where this becomes an issue, although more than enough to leave this a couple of notches below potential reference material. Still, with an otherwise strong colour scheme and no other noteworthy defects, Arrow remains largely very good.
Sound QualityArrow's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is outstanding, providing a punch and precise accompaniment; delivering dialogue clearly and coherently, prioritised across the front and centre channels, whilst the myriad effects - often quite explosive - and thrumming score offer up an engulfing backdrop.
Arrow's soundtrack is a punchy and precise accompaniment to the video
The action is delivered with aplomb, thrashing across the surrounds and drawing weight from the LFE channel; delivering precision across the array whilst coming with not insignificant punch too. The score may not be particualrly memorable, but gives the series a fast-paced edge and maintains consistency across the season. It's an excellent offering.
ExtrasStrewn across its four discs, Season 4 of Arrow boasts 10 Deleted Scenes, a trio of Featurettes, a look at the 2015 Comic-Con Panel, and a Gag Reel.
Blu-ray VerdictArrow remains compelling, character-driven and action-packed, and is one of the best franchises - small or big screen - that DC has going at the moment. This fourth season turns the show around somewhat from the relationship-driven devolvement of the second half of Season 3 but Season 5 will still have its work cut out to bring things back to the standards of the show's first two years.
Arrow remains compelling, character-driven and action-packed
The Blu-ray release boasts consistently good video and excellent audio, as well as a nice selection of extra features, and, for Arrow fans, remains a must-have addition to their collection. If you haven't really ventured far into the DC TV arena, Arrow is a great place to start, although it's worth starting from the beginning on this quality piece of small-screen superior storytelling.
You can buy Arrow Season 4 on Blu-ray here
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